For once, there is no reason to dread the NBA owners and players getting together for a negotiation.
Friday in New York the two sides will sit down to hammer out the details remaining on a labor deal that is expected to be finished and presented to both the owners and players for separate votes next Thursday, reports Marc Stein at ESPN. If approved as expected by those votes, training camps would open the next day, Dec. 9.
The now reconstituted union and league have a lot of “B-list” issues to hammer out, such as details on drug testing, D-League assigments and the authority of David Stern to discipline players, among a host of other smaller issues. None of these are considered deal breakers and both sides will horse trade a little on these to get a deal done. That said, it’s a long list and could be a long day.
Maybe the biggest issue is NBA draft age, but that is not one that will be resolved Friday. This year’s draft will remain as-is (meaning age 19 and up, allowing for one-and-dones) and it likely will be that way for a couple years. The two sides will form a committee to study how to deal with it going forward. The owners would like it to be higher, the players say it should be age 18, and a host of options will be considered including one where guys can enter the draft but if they are not chosen they have to spend two or three years in college. Smart money says when all is said and done it remains at age 19.
The good news is there is almost no chance that Billy Hunter storms out of the room and the two sides hold separate press conferences to say the deal is off. The issues are not worth it any more, they figured out the money and other big ones. But don’t worry, the lawyers are still getting paid a lot of money for the next week or so to finalize this (I know you were concerned about them).